TAMPA – A lot of Buccaneers fans still don’t understand how or why the Bucs allowed former Florida State running back Dalvin Cook to slip though their hands during the NFL Draft.
Oh sure, most have come to understand that they had Alabama tight end O.J. Howard rated much higher than Cook and that they simply couldn’t pass on Howard once he slipped to their first-round slot.
But some are still scratching their heads, wondering why in the wake of adding Howard, the Bucs didn’t engineer a trade to move back into position to get Cook either later in the first round or early in the second.
Well, when you look at how their draft played out you can argue that despite being the team most often linked to Cook, the Bucs were never really all that interested in actually drafting Cook.
Next to Joe Mixon, Cook was the running back in this draft whose character was most often questioned and as predicted those concerns about his character did spark a fall into the second round.
Now, we’re not saying that those concerns wiped Cook completely off the Bucs board, but there’s reason to believe they did keep Cook from passing through Licht’s character filter.
Like one of his mentors, Bill Belichick, Licht believes that in order to build a Super Bowl champion, your locker room needs to be made up of not necessarily the best 53 players, but the right 53 players.
It’s a point Licht drove home during the draft when he was asked about what second-round safety Justin Evans brought to the team and he has hit on it again in several interviews since.
For example, last week during an interview with Adam Schein on SiriusXM radio, Licht said that in terms of adding the “right kind of guys to be Buccaneers,’’ he “excelled’’ and was “excited about that.’’
“It’s about getting the right player, but it’s also about getting the right kind of guy,’’ Licht said told Bucs reporters. “I’m not talking about humanitarians, but I am talking about the locker room, team-first (kind of guys).’’
We may never know for sure how the Bucs rated Cook in that regard, but we know that despite all the fanfare suggesting he would be one and all the
opportunities they had to make him one, Cook is not a Buccaneer.
And when you consider how truly proud Licht is that he drafted nothing but players who character mold, you can’t help but wonder if Cook passed the Bucs talent evaluation but flat out failed their character test.